On April 25, this Grand Rapids phenom of a rock/soul band fronted by Molly Bouwsma-Schultz will release its first full-length studio album. Get a sneak peak in this exclusive Local Spins interview and concert.
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The eyes of fans watching Vox Vidorra unfurl its singularly infectious mix of soul, rock and jazz inextricably are drawn to lead singer Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, a bundle of electrical charges who unceasingly stalks the stage – swaying, bending, stooping, kneeling and, inevitably, even writhing on the floor in an ever-passionate vocal display.
“Singing to me feels really good so I guess I’m just in my own world having a good time and I’m glad people enjoy it,” says Bouwsma-Schultz, who remembers “something came over my body” the very first time she sang in front of a big crowd in high school.
But in their own way, the other members of this fast-emerging Grand Rapids band – Scott Schultz, Theodore Ndawillie II and Ryan K. Wilson – are every bit as spellbinding with their knack for brilliant rhythms, melodic nuances and seamless instrument-swapping.
With influences as disparate as Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Charles, Radiohead, Earth Wind & Fire, Harry Nillson and Ella Fitzgerald, Vox Vidorra has quickly established itself as a buzz band and one of West Michigan’s brightest musical prospects. Its first full-length studio album, “Promise Land,” will be released on April 25 at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids.
MULTI-INSTRUMENTAL SONGWRITING, WIDE-RANGING INFLUENCES
“Scott and I put this band together,” Bouwsma-Schultz says of her husband, “because I really wanted an outlet for original songwriting and that’s something I hadn’t really found before. … To have that collaborative magic that we found is sort of unique I think.”
That collaborative magic, enhanced by each band member’s multi-instrumental talents, was dramatically displayed during Vox Vidorra’s recent appearance as part of the HopCat presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios series.
The third edition of the concert-and-interview podcast taped in front of an intimate, invited audience of guests – recorded by River City engineers Roy Wallace and Austin Ruhstorfer, and captured on video by a student team from Grand Valley State University – boasted the band’s trademark, organically soulful approach on five original songs while providing insights to Vox Vidorra’s collective creativity.
“We all bring our individual influences and our own individual tastes in songwriting and everything,” Scott Schultz suggests. “I’ve never been in a band before where songwriting is a collaborative process.”
Or, where each band member can sit down at a piano or drum kit, or strap on a bass, depending on the song, due to their experience in other ensembles. “It carves out our own unique sound from that,” says Ndawillie, who’s played in the bands Archery and The Brilliance, and who’s been commissioned as a composer by the Grand Rapids Symphony.
LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE: VOX VIDORRA @ RIVER CITY STUDIOS
Wilson, meanwhile, is known for his work with hip hop’s Rick Chyme as well as boundary-pushing bands such as the Scott Pellegrom Trio and Southpaw Players.
Adds Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, formerly with the award-winning blues-soul band Blue Molly: “All of our influences make up the music that we’re doing. I don’t think any of us are really concerned with labels, so just making music we want to make is really our main goal.”
That music – in the form of 11 original tracks – was recorded at Grand Rapids’ all-analog Goon Lagoon studios, an experience the band insists brought out the best in their abilities and distinctive sound.
Goon Lagoon producer and recording engineer Tommy Schichtel strongly asserts that the band has potential to be “one of the biggest things” musically to come out of Grand Rapids in many years.
That remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting the unique camaraderie that Vox Vidorra has spawned and the rare musical power it’s unleashed.
Says Ndawillie: “We found it with each other.”
VOX VIDORRA AT RIVER CITY STUDIOS: THE VIDEO
VOX VIDORRA: PHOTO GALLERY BY ANTHONY NORKUS